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A poet is a person who studies and creates
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...

poetry
. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be the creator (
thinker
thinker
,
songwriter A songwriter is a musician who professionally composes musical compositions or writes lyrics for songs, or both. The writer of the music for a song can be called a composer, although this term tends to be used mainly in the classical music g ...

songwriter
,
writer A writer is a person who uses writing, written words in different writing styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce different forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, Short story, short stories, books, poetr ...

writer
, or
author An author is the writer of a book, article, play, or mostly written work. A broader definition of the word "author" states: "''An author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibi ...

author
) who creates (composes) poems ( oral or
written
written
), or they may also
perform
perform
their art to an
audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature (in which they are called "readers"), theatre, music (in which they are called "listeners"), video games (in which they are called "players"), or ...

audience
. The work of a poet is essentially one of communication, expressing ideas either in a literal sense (such as communicating about a specific event or place) or
metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech that, for rhetorical effect, directly refers to one thing by mentioning another. It may provide (or obscure) clarity or identify hidden similarities between two different ideas. Metaphors are often compared with ...
ically. Poets have existed since
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the beginning of recorded history with the invention of writing systems. The use of ...
, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary greatly in different cultures and periods. Throughout each
civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society characterized by the development of a state, social stratification, urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from Rural area, rural to urban are ...

civilization
and language, poets have used various styles that have changed over time, resulting in countless poets as diverse as the
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...

literature
that (since the advent of
writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanically transferred, or Word processor, digitally represented Symbols (semiot ...

writing
systems) they have produced.


History

In
Ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
, professional poets were generally sponsored by
patrons
patrons
, wealthy supporters including nobility and military officials. For instance,
Gaius Cilnius Maecenas Gaius Cilnius Maecenas ( – 8 BC) was a friend and political advisor to Octavian (who later reigned as emperor Augustus). He was also an important patron for the new generation of Augustan poets, including both Horace and Virgil. During the rei ...
, friend to
Caesar Augustus Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Pr ...
, was an important patron for the Augustan poets, including both
Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus (; 8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (), was the leading Roman Empire, Roman Lyric poetry, lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetoricia ...

Horace
and
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
. While
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the ...

Ovid
, a well established poet, was banished from Rome by the first
Augustus Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Pri ...

Augustus
. Poets held an important position in pre-Islamic Arabic society with the poet or ''
sha'ir A ''sha'ir'' was a pre-Islamic Arabia, pre-Islamic Arab poet believed to have magical powers. History The origin of the term ''sha'ir'' is unknown. The ancient Arab culture viewed the ''sha'ir'' as a type of Magician (fantasy), wizard, able to co ...
'' filling the role of historian, soothsayer and propagandist. Words in praise of the tribe (''qit'ah'') and lampoons denigrating other tribes (''hija) seem to have been some of the most popular forms of early poetry. The ''sha'ir'' represented an individual tribe's prestige and importance in the
Arabian peninsula The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa Africa is t ...
, and mock battles in poetry or ''
zajal Zajal () is a traditional form of oral Strophic form, strophic poetry declaimed in a colloquial dialect. While there is little evidence of the exact origins of the zajal, the earliest recorded zajal poet was the poet Ibn Quzman of al-Andalus who ...
'' would stand in lieu of real wars. 'Ukaz, a market town not far from
Mecca Mecca (; officially Makkah al-Mukarramah, commonly shortened to Makkah ()) is a city and administrative center of the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia, and the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city in Islam. It is inland from Jeddah on the Red ...

Mecca
, would play host to a regular poetry festival where the craft of the ''sha'irs'' would be exhibited. In the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the periodization, period of European history that lasted from AD 1000 to 1300. The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and were followed by the Late Middle Ages, which ended ...
, troubadors were an important class of poets and came from a variety of backgrounds. They lived and travelled in many different places and were looked upon as actors or musicians as much as poets. They were often under patronage, but many travelled extensively. The
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, period in History of Europe, European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an e ...

Renaissance
period saw a continuation of patronage of poets by royalty. Many poets, however, had other sources of income, including Italians like Dante Aligheri,
Giovanni Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet ...

Giovanni Boccaccio
and
Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet of early Italian Renaissance, Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest Renaissance humanism, humanists. Petrarch's rediscov ...

Petrarch
's works in a pharmacist's guild and
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...

William Shakespeare
's work in the theater. In the Romantic period and onwards, many poets were independent writers who made their living through their work, often supplemented by income from other occupations or from family. This included poets such as
William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic poetry, Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romanticism, Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication ''Lyrical Balla ...

William Wordsworth
and
Robert Burns Robert Burns (25 January 175921 July 1796), also known familiarly as Rabbie Burns, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the List of national poets, national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best kn ...

Robert Burns
. Poets such as
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
in the
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area ...
and
John Milton John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English people, English poet and intellectual. His 1667 epic poetry, epic poem ''Paradise Lost'', written in blank verse and including over ten chapters, was written in a time of immense ...

John Milton
in
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse (poetry), verse. A second edition fo ...

Paradise Lost
invoked the aid of a
Muse In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, mythology, the Muses ( grc, Μοῦσαι, Moûsai, el, Μούσες, Múses) are the Artistic inspiration, inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the sou ...

Muse
.


Education

Poets of earlier times were often well read and highly educated people while others were to a large extent self-educated. A few poets such as
John Gower John Gower (; c. 1330 – October 1408) was an English poet, a contemporary of William Langland and the Pearl Poet, and a personal friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. He is remembered primarily for three major works, the '' Mirour de l'Omme'', '' ...

John Gower
and
John Milton John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English people, English poet and intellectual. His 1667 epic poetry, epic poem ''Paradise Lost'', written in blank verse and including over ten chapters, was written in a time of immense ...

John Milton
were able to write poetry in more than one language. Some Portuguese poets, as
Francisco de Sá de Miranda
Francisco de Sá de Miranda
, wrote not only in Portuguese but also in Spanish.
Jan Kochanowski Jan Kochanowski (; 1530 – 22 August 1584) was a Polish Renaissance List of Polish language poets, poet who established poetic patterns that would become integral to the Polish Polish literature, literary language. He is commonly regarded as th ...

Jan Kochanowski
wrote in Polish and in Latin,
France Prešeren France Prešeren () (2 or 3 December 1800 – 8 February 1849) was a 19th-century Romantic poetry, Romantic Slovene poet whose poems have been translated into many languages.
France Prešeren
and Karel Hynek Mácha wrote some poems in German, although they were poets of Slovenian and Czech respectively.
Adam Mickiewicz Adam Bernard Mickiewicz (; 24 December 179826 November 1855) was a Polish poet, dramatist, essayist, publicist, translator and political activist. He is regarded as List of national poets#Europe, national poet in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. ...

Adam Mickiewicz
, the greatest poet of Polish language, wrote a Latin ode for emperor
Napoleon III Napoleon III (Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte; 20 April 18089 January 1873) was the first President of France (as Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte) from 1848 to 1852 and the last monarch of France as Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870. A neph ...

Napoleon III
. Another example is Jerzy Pietrkiewicz, a Polish poet. When he moved to Great Britain, he ceased to write poetry in Polish, but started writing novel in English. He also translated poetry from English and into English. Many universities offer degrees in creative writing though these only came into existence in the 20th century. While these courses are not necessary for a career as a poet, they can be helpful as training, and for giving the student several years of time focused on their writing.Nikki Moustaki (2001), ''The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Poetry'', Penguin.


Poets of sacred verse

Lyrical poets who write sacred poetry (" hymnographers") differ from the usual image of poets in a number of ways. A hymnographer such as
Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts
who wrote 700 poems in his lifetime, may have their lyrics sung by millions of people every Sunday morning, but are not always included in anthologies of poetry. Because hymns are perceived of as "
worship Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god In monotheistic thought ...

worship
" rather than "poetry," the term "artistic kenosis" is sometimes used to describe the hymnographer's success in "emptying out" the instinct to succeed as a poet. A singer in the pew might have several of Watts's stanzas memorized, without ever knowing his name or thinking of him as a poet.


See also

*
List of poets This is an alphabetical list of internationally notable poets. A Ab–Ak *Aarudhra (1925–1968), Indian Telugu literature, Telugu poet, born Bhagavatula Sadasiva Sankara Sastry *Jonathan Aaron (born 1941), US poet *Chris Abani (born 1966), Nig ...
*
Bard In Celtic cultures, a bard is a professional Storytelling, story teller, verse-maker, music composer, Oral history, oral historian and genealogy, genealogist, employed by a patron (such as a monarch or chieftain) to commemorate one or more of ...

Bard
*
Lyricist A lyricist is a songwriter who writes lyrics (the spoken words), as opposed to a composer, who writes the song's music which may include but not limited to the melody, harmony, arrangement and accompaniment. Royalties A lyricist's income der ...
* List of poetry groups and movements


References


Further reading

* Reginald Gibbons (ed), ''The Poet's Work: 29 poets on the origins and practice of their art''. University of Chicago Press (1979).
at Google Books
{{Authority control Occupations in literature